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Sunday, February 14

Mining costly to New Zealand economy


International condemnation of plans to mine the conservation estate shows how John Key’s proposal will damage the New Zealand economy, the Green Party said today.

One of North America’s most prominent environmental groups, the Sierra Club, has written a letter of complaint to the Prime Minister describing plans to mine in National Parks as ‘an affront to the international community’ and warning that it could scare off tourists.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the Sierra Club’s letter put New Zealand on notice: “We’ve been warned. There’s a smart approach to the economy and there’s a dumb approach and mining is dumb. Mining our conservation land will be costly to our tourism industry and export industries that rely on our clean, green brand.

“Mining will hurt the economy as well as the environment. Mining is the past not the future.”

Earlier this week, John Key confirmed that his Government wanted to make ‘significant changes’ to the laws that keep conservation land free from mining, arguing that there was extraordinary economic potential in Crown-owned land.
Documents previously made public by the Green Party show that mining plans include Fiordland National Park, Kahurangi National Park, Paparoa National Park, Mt Aspiring National Park and large sections of the Coromandel.

However, the Sierra Club letter points to the potential economic cost of mining in or near National Parks, noting that tourists would be ‘reconsidering visits to your country if your magnificent mountains include vistas that are marred by mining excavations and facilities.’

The Sierra Club has more than 600,000 members in the United States and Canada, as well as almost a million more supporters.

Mrs Turei said economic analysis argued for protecting the conservation estate rather than ripping it up: “Tourism is worth more than $18 billion to New Zealand every year. We can look after that tourism revenue, enjoy the last of our wild places and protect biodiversity or we can mine.”

The environmental arguments were also compelling, Mrs Turei said, and claims about low-impact mining did not add up either.